I don't think it is a secret that homemade orecchiette is my favourite pasta to eat. There is just something about it! The little bowls are born to hold sauce and the chewy texture is so divine. Shaping orecchiette, meaning little ears in Italian, takes some practice but the thing you always need to remember with pasta making is it will always taste amazing! It is made with a simple semolina and water dough and it is so easy to bring together.
Ingredients for homemade orecchiette
Flour - this is made from a durum wheat flour which will most often be labeled 'semola rimacinata' and it classified as a 'hard wheat' it has a lot of structure and bite.
Water - it really is that simple! I like to use slightly warmed water.
What is semolina?
Simple! It is a flour milled from a kind of wheat called durum wheat. It is just a different type of wheat and is often classed as a 'hard wheat'. The '00' flours or even plain flour is more of a 'soft wheat'. Basically what that means is that shapes made out of a semolina pasta dough will have more of a bite, they often have, in my opinion, a really addictive and delicious chewy factor. When you add semolina into an egg pasta dough it helps to add structure and an al dente bite. That is why I often mix it into '00' flour when making my easy homemade pasta dough.
The difference between Semolina and Semola
This is something that confuses a lot of people and is VERY important! Both are made from exactly the same wheat but are milled differently. Semola is what we call really fine semolina and is the flour you need to use when making this pasta dough, it is also the flour that goes into an egg dough along with '00'. It will most often labeled semola rimacinata. What is labeled semolina is a much coarser flour but it also used in pasta making, just not in the dough. When making any kind of pasta having the courser semolina on hand is very handy for dusting trays and preventing the pasta from sticking.
Shaping the orecchiette
This shape does take a little bit of practice, practice makes perfect but in saying that it is supposed to be rustic so don't get too hung up on it. I have a reel and highlight on my instagram so definitely head there to check that out first. It's good to see it in action.
- You will use the exact same dough method as my semolina pasta dough but with slightly less water. Weights are in recipe card below.
- Once your dough has rested, cut off a slice and shape it into a sausage shape.
- Roll it out into a strand about the size of your thumb
- Cut into pieces about 1.5cm (you can play around with the size there is no rule here) and roll them into little balls.
- Try out a few different knives I like to use a big flat knife but you can use a bread and butter knife.
- Press the knife down and drag it quite hard against the board with your knife at a 45 degree angle.
- When you know you are getting to the end of the ball ease off the knife so you create a rim all the way around.
- Turn it inside out over your thumb.
I personally prefer a large flat knife like in my photos. A lot of people use a bread and butter knife, try both and see what you prefer.
You aren't using enough pressure on the knife when dragging. You need to press really hard, but not so hard it sticks to the board. Take some time to experiment with different pressures to see what works. If it isn't turning inside out well, it's too thick and you need to press harder.
Absolutely! It is my preferred method. When you have finished shaping them, pop in the freezer open on the tray. When frozen, 20 mins or so, transfer to a bag or container and freeze for up to three months. They cook beautifully from frozen and you don't need to add any cooking time.
It only needs two minutes to cook and then I love to finish it off in the sauce for a minute or two.
What sauce goes best?
ANYTHING! After all that dough making and shaping you might like something quick and easy so check out my guide to the best butter sauce for pasta. My brand new creamy leek pasta is an absolute winner as well as my classic creamy tomato pasta sauce. You really can't go wrong!
Made this recipe and loved it?
I would love love LOVE if you could leave me a review down below and let me know what you thought! Also if you put a photo on instagram, please tag me so I can see, it makes my day!Print